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The Kidologist Top Influencers

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Author/Source: Karl Bastian

Topic: Leaders, Influence

Karl Bastian was selected by Group’s CM Magazine as one of kids ministry Top 20 Influencer’s – but who were his “Top Influencers?”

In 2010 Karl Bastian, founder of, was selected by Children’s Ministry Magazine as one of the Top 20 Influencers in Children’s Ministry in the past twenty years. He was featured in their magazine (see the PDF linked below) and was sent a beautiful award and letter by Group Publishing that will be treasured by his family for years to come. It was truly an honor and tribute to the hard work of the entire Kidology Team to have their leader recognized in this way.

As a result, Karl is often asked, “Who have been your top influencers in your children’s ministry thinking?”

To address this common question, Karl answers the question giving his Top Five Influencers in Children's Ministry:

  1. He’s been dead a long time – but he’s my #1 influencer in children’s ministry because he lead both of my parents to Christ one hundred years before they were born. His name is Dwight Lymon Moody and he founded both the church where I was their first children’s pastor and where I was first a children’s pastor! He also founded the Bible College where I got my Bible education. They are Moody Church and Moody Bible Institute. It was also in reading about his passion for children that inspired me as a young man. When the church would not allow “street urchins" into the church – he left the church and went to where the children were and started his own program, a program that became known as “Mr. Moody’s Sunday School.” It grew so big President Lincoln visited it, and it is now the Moody Church where I got my first job as a children’s pastor. Asked the be the "Coordinator of Children's Ministry" I thought I invented the term "children's pastor" so new was the term back then! I decided early on I wanted to have that same passion and zeal as Mr. Moody to do whatever it took to reach kids and hoped to create something that would out last me one hundred years after I was gone.

  2. My mother, Patti Bastian. While she was never famous, anyone who has heard of me, has been influenced and impacted by her. When I told her at age ten I wanted to be a children’s evangelist when I grew up, her answer was, “What’s growing up got to do with anything? You start next Wednesday night!” She coached me through my first Gospel illusion and the next week I taught the Awana Counsel Time in front of all my peers. Within two years I was traveling to neighboring churches as a traveling evangelist with my Gospel show on the road! She taught me how to teach and perform while encouraging my creativity. She helped channel my boyish energy toward the Kingdom of God instead of the mischievous endeavors I naturally was drawn to. When others were frustrated with my endless energy, she saw only creativity and potential. When others gave me a “time out” to get me out of the way, she sat with me and talked to me about how I was going to make a huge difference in the world and how God had wired me to impact others. She laughed with me over and over again, even through hard times and said, “Watch out world.” If only she could have seen what God was going to do. She went to be with the Lord in the early years of Kidology.

  3. Roger Fields of Kidz Blitz was the first workshop speaker I heard at my first Children’s Pastors Conference and he said the opposite of what so many others were saying, and I loved it. He swam upstream and against the tide. When he said, “No volunteers are accepted in our children’s ministry, it’s by invitation only,” I knew someone finally saw kids ministry the way I did – not with the desperation and hopelessness, but with Value and Honor and Esteem. I sat and took notes furiously and decided I might be younger than everyone who worked under me at my church, but I was going to inspire them all and call them to a new level of excellence in ministry. I was going to go home and talk about kids ministry in a brand new way. I still hang on every word he writes and am still tempted to shave my head in an act of devotion.

  4. Larry Fowler, from Awana, the author of Rock Solid Kids, came along later in my life, but his gentle heart and understanding of what it means to reach kids and partner with families was a fresh voice I was looking for and I have deeply appreciated his approach. I believe more people need to listen to what he is saying. He has also been an accessible friend on a personal level on my own pilgrimage with Christ and that has meant the world to me. Larry is my golf buddy I've never yet been golfing with, as we've tried several times to get a date scheduled and never quite been able to get a date on the calendar... but if we don't get a date on the greens scheduled soon, at least we know we've got all of eternity to "Tee Up" and share stories from our days on earth reaching and teaching kids for Jesus! Larry's a guy awana get to know better.

  5. Finally, but not least of all, Mark Steiner is a man who is not often known by name, but is known more by the product he has created: DiscipleLand Bible Curriculum. What is less grasped my many, even those who use it, is the comprehensive children’s discipleship system that lies underneath it, that when studied and fully understood, is incredibly fascinating. Mark knows Scripture and its application to children’s ministry unlike anyone I have ever met. It’s impact on me and how I approach every aspect of ministry has been profound and caused me to be deeply biblical and thoughtful in how I strategize the overall goals and desired outcomes of ministry. A truely biblical scholar of children's ministry, he showed me that children's ministry is a pursuit worthy of the most intentional strategy.

As you can see, none of my influencers are those who seek to be known - in fact, I am drawn to those who don't seek the spotlight. Most of my other big influencers I don't know their names, because they aren't known. They don't have ministries that bear their names, or websites or blogs - because they are regular folks who are just busy serving Jesus and reaching kids. They are members of and they are attendees of kids ministry conferences. They are the folks I sit with at conferences and chat with in the hallways and sit with after workshops. They are the ones I ask questions of who came to me to ask questions and are usually surprised when I have a list of questions for them, because, you see, I'm still learning, and I don't consider myself an expert yet. Being considered a "Top Influencer" is kinda crazy to me, because I consider myself a "Top Learner" still. I'm just sharing what I'm learning along the way from those I am constanting talking to - and most of them are just unknown folks in the trenches. They are my influencers, because they are the most real. Of course, there are great folks with ministries and blogs, and such - but my favorites are those with no times for that, because they are too busy just ministering to kids.

Karl Bastian, the Kidologist
aka a never-ending student of kids ministry

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